Facebook said today that it is redesigning its data centers to be more eco-friendly and efficient. It comes in the form of a new initiative called the Open Compute Project, in which it hopes to share the custom-engineered technology in its first dedicated data center in Prineville, Oregon.
Why is this important? These data centers are the home of all the data you give Facebook. They store the social graph, the totality of your personal data at Facebook. The social graph is Facebook's prize asset, and its means of making money today and into the future.
Facebook rethought and redesigned the data center at Prineville from top to bottom to decrease power usage and costs and to make the facility more eco-friendly. Facebook says the redesign resulted in a 38 percent increase in energy efficienciency at a 24 percent lower cost.
One of the greatest challenges of operating a data center is cooling it efficiently. So Facebook engineered the Prineville center to operate at a higher temperature and humidity--85 degrees Ferenheit and 65 percent relative humidity--than conventional data centers.
The company says it wants to share what it learned from the experience with other companies so that they can make their own data centers more green and efficient.
Facebook did a lot of things to reinvent its Prineville data center. The company stripped paint and screws and other unnecessaries from the individual servers. Removing paint aids in cooling, among other things; removing screws makes it easier to pull and replace servers.
Facebook also designed and built two sets of customer motherboards for the servers. The servers are very inexpensive and can be easily removed out of the large, ceiling-high server racks and replaced.
"I think it's the biggest cost reduction in running server technology in a decade," said a Dell executive speaking at the Facebook event today.